Ulster County finally knows who will serve as its next district attorney.
It's been a long election road for Ulster County district attorney candidates Democrat Dave Clegg and Republican Mike Kavanagh, but that road has come to an end. Kavanagh conceded the election to Democrat Dave Clegg.
After election day this past November, Kavanagh was ahead by just three votes. After absentee and affidavit ballots were counted, Clegg was in the lead by 77 votes and declared the winner of the race. But Kavanagh requested a recount available under an Ulster law for when a vote margin between two candidates is narrow.
But Thursday, Kavanagh conceded the election, making Democrat Dave Clegg the official winner of the race. In a statement, Kavanagh said, "I am fully confident after the legally required hand recount of all ballots that all valid votes have been counted."
Kavanagh instructed his legal team to discontinue all legal proceedings.
"I'm feeling elated, very happy, about the fact this is finally completed, that we won," Clegg said. "I feel grateful for all the people that supported me."
While most candidates would normally get more than a month to prepare for office, due to the drawn-out ballot counting process, Clegg has just a few short days to hire his team.
"I also feel the responsibility, the weight of the office, and it's a crucial time for DAs across the state," Clegg said.
He says he'll be sworn-in, in the next few days and he'll take office on Monday morning — an office formerly held by Republicans for over a hundred years.
"I believe we can make our system [fairer] and [safer] by helping to rehabilitate more folks by working with rehabilitation and options for treatment for people with drug addictions who might normally be placed in jail for drug possession," Clegg said. "If we could do some restorative justice with youth and keep youth out of the criminal justice system we can be in a win-win-win situation.
Clegg says he will set up a task force for restorative justice issues and continue to work with the opioid task force already in place in the county. But for now, Clegg will be busy forming his team so he's ready to get to work on Monday.
"I'm really looking forward to getting in there and pulling my sleeves up and digging in and getting the job done, that protects public safety and moves the ball forward on criminal reform," Clegg said.